From Publishers Weekly
In a lovely memoir, writer and photographer Kantner (author of the novel Ordinary Wolves) shares scenes from life in Alaska, from his childhood in the remote tundra, where his parents lived off the land in an isolated, "semi-Eskimo existence," to his current home, the small town of Kotzebue, with his wife and daughter. Kantner reflects on wilderness, global warming and human encroachment, the changes that slowly make their way to the tundra ("the snowmobile and the demise of working dogs was a major tipping point") and the hard reality behind the American Dream: "as in the Old West, it is what we've lost that marks who we are much more than these things we've gained." While turning in a thoughtful and captivating memoir of subsistence living, isolation and uncertainty ("There was always meat but questions too: What would happen if our dad fell through the ice...?), he documents the wisdom of the disappearing Inuit culture his dad revered, and locates its place in modern life. With a sensitive, graceful voice and his own stunning color images, Kantner proves an appealing and talented artist.
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*Starred Review* Kantner’s gripping first book, the novel Ordinary Wolves (2004), embodied a unique perspective on Alaskan life. Now the Whiting Award–winning author shares true stories of his own tundra experiences in a book of bracing essays and beautiful photographs. The son of intrepid, back-to-the-land free spirits from Ohio, Kantner, born in an igloo in 1965, dreamed of becoming a great hunter in the Eskimo tradition, but most Inupiaq eagerly embraced mainstream American culture and technology. Indeed, paradox and loss abound in Kantner’s riveting and provocative tales of hunting caribou and moose, and in his poignant profiles of elders with vast knowledge of the tundra who are being displaced by the results of climate change, from rising seas to melting permafrost and treacherously thin ice. Suspense and heartache are matched by wry humor and outrage, and all is infused with Kantner’s humility and deep respect for the wild as he decries the practices of high-tech trophy hunters, and maps his own metamorphosis from trapper and hunter to writer and photographer. Crafted with the precision and nerve acquired by living off the land, this is a powerful and important book of remembrance, protest, and warning. --Donna Seaman
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